Arsenal to visit Nigeria, Chamakh considers his future and more injury worries
When Arsene Wenger and his Gunners booked a flight to Athens to play Olympiakos Pireaus in Spyros Louis, the gooners expected a simple run-out that had little or no consequence on the final standings as Arsenal’s resounding win over Borussia Dortmund was good enough to seal top spot in Group F.
Arsenal played against Olympiakos in a similar situation on the 9th of December 2009 but Arsene Wenger did well to rest his big guns and hand a chance to the younger ones coming up. Lukasz Fabianski was between the sticks and he had a defense composed of Kerrea Gilbert, debutant Kyle Bartley, the calamitous captain of the night Mikael Silvestre and the Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise.
The midfield had upcoming stars like Aaron Ramsey and Fran Merida with Alex Song doing the dirty work in front of the back four. Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela completed the front three as Arsenal went down valiantly courtesy of a goal from a bloke named Leonardo.
Questions were raised when Thomas Vermaelen led the Gunners out last week Tuesday as the fans felt that he was amongst the players that deserved a night out but the Belgian was involved in the first Arsenal casualty of the game following a clash with his own goalkeeper. In another situation, it might have been the other way round with Fabianski still in action while the Verm could have been out with a head injury or worse.
Olympiakos wanted the game more than Arsenal so it was expected that they’ll be involved in some crunching tackles but the moment of despair came when Andre Santos got injured and was stretched off. He played a bit but he clearly struggled so he was replaced by a player that was meant to start in his stead, Ignasi Miquel.
After the game, Santos told everyone that he was going to be out for just three weeks:
“I twisted my ankle in a silly move, The doctor thinks I’ll be out for three weeks.”
I hate to be a bearer of bad news but the Brazilian was gravely wrong because it has been confirmed that he’ll be out for the best part of three months as he’s to undergo surgery to repair the ligaments in his right ankle.
This news comes at a very bad time for Arsene Wenger as the Frenchman is already without Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs. Arsenal fielded four recognized center backs against Everton and despite being solid at the back, they offered little or no threat upfront.
Thomas Vermaelen did superbly well to keep Seamus Coleman locked in a cage and he supported Gervinho on a few occasions but Johan Djourou didn’t offer any help to Theo Walcott but it wasn’t really needed as the pacey winger tore Leighton Baines to shreds.
The January transfer window is around the corner and the likelihood of Arsenal buying a new full back is slim to none. Vermaelen is adept playing as a full back but his presence will be sorely missed in the heart of the Arsenal defense.
Arsenal’s Marouane Chamakh was heralded as a great bargain by Arsene Wenger last season following his free transfer from Girondins Bordeaux that saw him net 10 times in his first 21 appearances.With Robin van Persie nursing an ankle injury and Nicklas Bendtner recuperating from his groin surgery, Chamakh played a lot of games in the first half of the season but with the return to fitness of the captain, the striker has been in the fringes of Arsenal.
Unlike Bendtner, Chamakh has been the silent type that would say a good thing or two while hoping for Wenger to give him another shot but it seems as if frustration is creeping in as the Moroccan has told everyone that he cannot stay in the fringes forever.
However, his agent Pierre Ferlot has hinted that he won’t be rejoining Bordeaux. He says that his client’s short-term priority is to do well with his country in the upcoming African Cup of Nations then he’ll finish the season at Arsenal. He also said that there’ll be an “important decision to make” in the summer and I’m pretty sure we all know what that means.
Sticking with transfer tidbits, Wenger has ruled out a January move for Lyon’s French playmaker and his long-term admirer Yoann Gourcuff. There are also speculations that the Gunners are planning a 15m bid for Valencia’s in-form striker Roberto Soldado as the perfect backup for RVP while Marseille has ruled out a sale for their hobbit Mathieu Valbuena.
As a proud Nigerian, I’ve supported Arsenal Football Club since the days Merlin was the Chief Wizard of Camelot and I’ve been faithful to the club by getting my fair share of merchandise as well as watching every single game, from playing the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona et al to friendlies against clubs with scary names by Szombathelyi Haladas.
It gives me utmost joy to write that the club is planning a pre-season tour to my own backyard in July 2012. The club has also canceled the annual Emirates Cup because of the 2012 London Olympics and it will be a massive event in the country because Nigeria boasts of the largest Arsenal fan base in Africa.
I can remember when Cesc Fabregas tweeted at Goodluck Jonathan after he won the Presidential elections in April:
Good luck to Goodluck Jonathan. Nigerian new president.—
Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) April 18, 2011
If I got 10 pounds from the amount of retweets and replies he got from the Nigerians on Twitter, I would have been able to match the bid Barcelona made for him.
Wherever Arsenal’s matches will be played, let’s show everyone that the gooners own Naija. God willing, I would be there even if it is in Boko Haram headquarters.
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